Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie GarberCaraval (Caraval, #1) by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Pages: 407

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.


There’s just a sad love… deep in your eyes… a kind of pale jewel….

That’s the lyrics to As the World Falls Down, my favorite song from my all time favorite movie, Labyrinth. Why am I type-humming it? Because my brain thought of Labyrinth so many times while reading Caraval! EXCELLENT.

The gist of Labyrinth: A sister, trying desperately to rescue their younger sibling, is forced into a beautiful, yet terrible magical place, that plays tricks on you, and forces you to make hard decisions. A ticking clock, a handful of characters that you don’t know if you can trust, and a very possible tragic ending.

Caraval reminded me of Labyrinth often, but it also was so completely its own thing. It was colorful, deadly, romantic, full of lies and promises and nightmares. I didn’t think I’d like this book, so I waited nearly a year after it was released to read it, and now I’m irritated with myself that I didn’t read it sooner. It was phenomenal!

Scarlet is racing against the clock, taking leaps of faiths, and reaping the benefits and consequences of those decisions. She’s often questioning her own sanity while trying to save her little sister Tella. Scarlet is so strong and brave, and full of so much love to risk everything to save her sister. But, this book is not just about Scarlet saving her sister, it’s also about her saving herself. Scarlet is forced to work through her own deep seated fears and unrealistic expectations, and has to question who she is, and who she wants to be.

There’s so many twists and secrets in this book, and I would never wish to spoil anyone, so I’m not going to go into any more details about the plot. Honestly, most of the time I didn’t really understand what was going on, because like Scarlet, everything was an illusion, lies mixed in with some truths, and I didn’t know what to believe. All of this was definitely purposeful though – so yay! The author succeeded in confusing me, not giving anything away, and making me so enraptured that I stayed up to 3am reading. #shameless

Garber’s writing is vigorous and vivid. This book is scary and beautiful. Part of me really wants a movie adaptation, but then the other part, really doesn’t. I’m conflicted, because I’d love to see the magic and dark beauty brought to life on the big screen, but also totally scared that the adaptation will be a failure like so many book-to-movie adaptations end up being.

Has anyone else fallen in love with Caraval? What do you think about a movie adaption?